Tesla hires Apple software engineer Chris Lattner to lead its Autopilot team

chris-lattnerChris Lattner, the project lead of Swift programming language at Apple Inc (NASDAQ: AAPL) decided to leave the iPhone maker to join Tesla Motors (NASDAQ: TSLA).

Lattner announced his departure from the company in a community forum on Tuesday. According to him, he will leave Apple later this month to pursue an opportunity in another space.

He wrote that his decision wasn’t easy and “remained completely committed to Swift,” which is used by hundreds of millions of people.  Apple launched Swift in 2014 as its de-facto language for third-party app developers.

Lattner still committed to Swift

“I plan to remain an active member of the Swift Core Team, as well as a contributor to the swift-evolution mailing list,” said Lattner.

Ted Kremenek, the senior manager of Languages and Runtimes team at Apple, will take over as project lead of Swift. He will manage the administrative and leadership responsibility for Swift.org.

“Working with many phenomenal teams at Apple to launch Swift has been a unique life experience.  Apple is a truly amazing place to be able to assemble the skills, imagination, and discipline to pull something like this off.  Swift is in great shape today, and Swift 4 will be a really strong release with Ted as the Project Lea,” added Lattner.

Tesla confirms hiring Lattner

Separately, Tesla released a statement confirming its hiring of Lattner as Executive Vice of Autopilot Software.

Tesla noted that Lattner’s reputation for engineering excellence is well known. Prior to his position at Apple, Lattner was the lead author of the LLVM Compiler Infrastructure, an open source umbrella project widely used in commercial products and academic research.

“We are very excited that Chris is joining Tesla to lead our Autopilot engineering team and accelerate the future of autonomous driving,” according to the electric car manufacturer.

Market observers believe that Lattner is a big executive win for Tesla since its Autopilot Software team is being supervised on an interim basis by Jinah Hosein, the Vice President of Software at SpaceX.

Tesla said, “We would like to thank Jinnah for the efforts needed to achieve excellence in both roles, David Nister, our Vice President of Autopilot Vision, and the team for their exceptional work in advancing Autopilot.”

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